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Mike Tomlin Says Kevin Dotson Will Start At LG: ‘He Played Better Than KG’

Play your best players. That’s Mike Tomlin’s philosophy to assembling his starting offensive line for Sunday’s opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Though it’s a front five full of question marks, Tomlin confirmed during his Tuesday press conference that Kevin Dotson will be the Steelers’ starting left guard to open the season, beating out Kendrick Green.

 

“He played better than KG,” Tomlin said during his presser. “And it’s as simple as that.”

It comes as little surprise and confirms yesterday’s depth chart that listed Dotson as the first-team left guard. No clerical errors here. Dotson and Green rotated first-team snaps to begin the summer with Green starting the first two games of the regular season. Dotson also missed a week with a foot injury, giving Green more snaps and the initial edge. But inside stadiums, Green struggled mightily, struggling against power rushes and getting run back into the pocket. Dotson ran as the clear starter in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions and played reasonably well.

With Dotson named the starter, the Steelers’ front five will look as follows:

LT – Dan Moore Jr.
LG – Kevin Dotson
C – Mason Cole
RG – James Daniels
RT – Chukwuma Okorafor

Trent Scott, Jesse Davis, J.C. Hassenauer, and Green will serve as the team’s backups. Everyone besides Green are likely to be active on Sunday, giving the team eight offensive linemen for the opening game. Scott the backup tackle, Davis the backup guard, Hassenauer the backup center.

For the second and arguably third straight season, the Steelers’ offensive line enters the year as the team’s X-Factor, an uncertain group of five under a new offensive line coach that must play better in order for Pittsburgh’s offense to get on track. Chiefly, the Steelers’ run game must be more effective and efficient than it was a year ago when Najee Harris struggled to break four yards per carry. If it’s any silver lining, the Steelers’ line looked a bit better run blocking than in pass protection and staying on schedule with a solid run game will help the line when it comes to pass protection.

For Dotson, this is an important season. Entering his third year, he spot-started as a rookie and missed the back half of 2021 due to a high ankle sprain. He’s yet to be able to firmly entrench himself as a reliable start along Pittsburgh’s offensive line and he may be running out of chances. But if he plays well as 2022, he can set himself up to be on solid ground for 2023, the final year of his rookie deal that could lead to a handsome payday.

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